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Cristina Abbatangelo

PhD Student, Anthropology, University of Toronto

I a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. My research is focused on human evolutionary genetics, pigmentation genetics, and phenotype prediction.

The driving question which has motivated me throughout my academic career is ‘what makes us human’? At the undergraduate level, I explored this broad question from a historical perspective, participating in archaeological excavations in Italy to learn about humans from ancient civilizations. As a part of the excavation team I was involved in processing pottery, as well as conducting age and sex estimations of excavated skeletons. This experience is what initially drew me to working with genetic data; I realized that to uncover exactly what made an ancient person human, it would be required to delve deeper than the skeleton, and into the genome. As a result, my graduate studies were focused on studying human evolutionary genetics, where I was able to integrate both a historic and genetic perspective. Today, some of the questions I am interested in include: How do natural selection and other historic evolutionary forces shape the genome? How can population genetics be used to answer questions about human history, for instance in relation to population movements and interactions? And how do gene studies help determine the probabilities of ancestry, disease risk, and phenotypic variation?


  • 2020–2023
    PhD Student, University of Toronto
  • 2018–2020
    MSc Student, University of Toronto
  • 2013–2017
    Undergraduate Student, McMaster University